THE publican of a local "watering hole" has put plenty of smiles on students' faces at a remote school out west.
Dan Keegan, the owner of the Muswellbrook Hotel, along with his family, staff and patrons recently raised enough money to purchase a boat for the pupils at Marra Creek Public, which is located adjacent to the Macquarie Marshes, 100km from Warren or Nyngan.
But, why a marine vessel you might ask, especially in a dry, arid township?
"The Keegan family has visited the Marra for many years and, more recently, farms near Girilambone," principal Marnie Hibbins said.
"Dan found out we were looking for a boat as an idea for playground equipment to foster imaginative play.
"He then took on the mission to find the perfect craft.
"After accruing the funds, thanks to his extremely kind staff and patrons, he delivered it to the school late last month.
"It will now be used by the seven students who attend Marra Creek Public.
"So, I certainly feel the Muswellbrook Hotel deserves recognition for its good deed."
Mr Keegan also invited a couple of schools from the Newcastle area to be involved, too, according to Ms Hibbins.
"The family's children attend St Peters' Primary at Stockton, while St Paul's Primary at Gateshead also got on board," she said.
"The school was kind enough to donate some classroom supplies and items for the students as well.
"All the children and their dads visited us to deliver the boat.
"The kids were curious to wander around and see the multistage classroom and spaces within the school and the Marra pupils gave an impromptu performance of a song they had been learning on the marimbas.
"They were all amazed at the remote location and small number of students who attend Marra Creek.
"The school community is incredibly grateful to the Keegan family and to St Pauls' for their generous gift, especially at this time of terrible drought.
"The boat will be installed with a timber gangway and ramp, so the kids can safely play and dream of being on the high seas."